“We left a lot of runners on,” Sparks coach Greg Vasko said. “We made a couple of errors, but I don’t think it was the end all fact that killed us today. I don’t know how many baserunners we had that we left on base. We tried, but we just couldn’t move them around. It’s hard to say what was missing. We got hits, but we didn’t get them when we had people on base. We moved runners around and then the inning was over before you knew it. Truckee is a great ball club. They’re a really, really good ball club over there.”
Truckee wasted little team jumping out to a lead over Sparks. A walk and single opened the game for the Wolverines before junior Jackson Rohlf tripled to plate the first two runs of the game. A double play then allowed Rohlf to touch home, giving Truckee the early 3-0 edge.
The Railroaders looked like they would answer in the bottom half of the first inning, but they managed only to score one run. Senior Quinn Lightfoot led the inning off with a double just inside the left-field line and rounded the bases on an errant throw on a sacrifice bunt from Keiffer Putman. A walk to Brandon Harris put runners on first and second, but a pop out and strikeout closed out the inning with the Wolverines leading 3-1.
Both offenses fell flat over the next two innings until Truckee added to its advantage in the top of the fourth. A bloop single allowed Chris Towle to reach first before he advanced to third on a wayward pick-off attempt and a passed ball. A walk and steal by senior Ty Englert put both runners in scoring position, setting up Stein Retzlaff for a 2-RBI double, leaving the scoreboard reading 5-1.
Loading the bases to start off the bottom of the fourth frame, the Railroaders again looked poised to do major damage. A walk to Kody McClelland forced home teammate Jared Longland, but Truckee worked itself out of the jam with just the one run against and a 5-2 lead.
A run was scored by each squad in the fifth inning. Truckee’s run came when Aaron Pado stole home and the Railroaders’ run came when L.B. Rose took advantage of passed ball. Sparks again left three runners on the base paths at the end of the fifth frame as the Wolverines maintained a three-run edge at 6-3.
Sparks was still in striking distance, but the visitors separated themselves in the top of the sixth with a five-spot that included three runs coming on balks, which led to the final result of 11-3.
Harris started on the mound for the Railroaders, striking out seven and walking seven in five and a third innings of work, taking the loss. Casey Carter came on in relief for the final five outs, giving up three runs due to balks.
The Maroon and Gold had nine hits on the day, while Truckee had eight base knocks.
Sparks (14-8, 8-4 MRL) will now have a week of practice before it travels to play the champion of the Ruby Mountain League for its best-of-three playoff series. While its opponent is still up in the air between Elko, Lowry and Spring Creek, Vasko said his team will be focused on itself.
“We have to be sound in our defense and our decision making,” Vasko said. “We can’t make the errors that we’ve been making. I think we just need to focus on the fundamentals of the game. If we focus on the fundamentals of hit, throw and catch, then we’ll be ready.”